FFAW Calls for Transparency in Fish Price Negotiations
June 10, 2019
ST. JOHN’S, NL - FFAW-Unifor is calling on Premier Dwight Ball and Minister Gerry Byrne to take immediate action to ensure transparency and fairness in fish price negotiations.
“Fish harvesters deserve a fair price for their catch. Unfortunately, processing companies don’t provide accurate information on production, yield, domestic and international prices and by-product information during price negotiations. Without this information, it’s difficult to negotiate a fair price to harvesters. The provincial government has the power the change this,” says Keith Sullivan, President of FFAW-Unifor.
During the election period, FFAW-Unifor questioned parties on their commitment to improving transparency in fish price negotiations by collecting accurate information from fish processors on all product forms processed in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Fair collective bargaining is essential for good labour relations in the fishery and requires the sharing of information that goes to the essence of setting a per pound price for fish. During the election campaign the Liberal Party clearly stated their support for transparency in fish processing and committed to seeking updating and accurate pricing information. Fish harvesters will hold the government to that commitment,” concluded Sullivan.
Prices for a number of species such as snow crab, cod, and shrimp are negotiated by FFAW-Unifor and fish processing companies. If an agreement cannot be reached between the parties, the Standing Fish Price Setting Panel determines the minimum prices paid to harvesters. Members of the Panel are appointed by the provincial government and the Panel’s mandate is outlined in the Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act.
“As it stands, the Panel does not have a true picture of what each species is valued at after processing and what prices the processors get in the marketplace. Transparency through information sharing will more accurately inform all parties involved in price negotiations,” says Trevor Jones, fish harvester from Green Bay.
Transparency will vastly improve collective bargaining for fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador. The current structure of the collective bargaining system is beneficial; however, the lack of accurate information being disclosed by processors undermines the credibility of the Panel’s decisions.